Fort Worth

Fort Worth Student Gets Global Honors for Photo

Marissa Heckmann earns a third-place finish for her work called Repeat

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A high school student in Fort Worth got some validation that her pursuit of art is something good.

"Getting the reassurance that your photography is good, it really helped me personally, yeah," said Marissa Heckmann, a third-place winner in a global photo contest.

Heckmann entered the 2021 Young Artists and Authors Showcase (YAAS) hosted by Sister Cities International. Close to 300 students from the U.S and around the globe competed, and Marissa's photo of her alone in a dark room staring at a screen was the third-best.

"The prompt was hope after COVID, and I submitted a picture of myself looking at my laptop screen in the dark. So the screen was just glaring at my face. And I was the only thing you could see," she explained.

Heckmann, 16, called her photo Repeat. It's how she sees her days living in a pandemic.

Marissa Heckman, 16, says her self portrait shows how her life was on repeat as she stared at screens when the coronavirus panademic closed her school . Photo Credit: Marissa Heckmann

"Like you wake up, you get on the computer. You go to school, you eat, you get on your phone and its just a longer version of that every day. That's why I named the piece Repeat because it was literally repeat every single day," she explained.

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The junior at I.M. Terrell in the Fort Worth ISD used the self-timer on her camera and propped the camera on a rolling cart in her room to snap the award-winning photo. She has loved art since she was a little kid but as times has doubted whether she's good at it. The doubts persisted even as her photo Repeat won awards on the way to the global competition.

"And, I was like, oh my gosh. And they were like, 'you're going internationally.' And I was like, 'I'm definitely not winning that. I''m not gonna get anything.' Then, I came back and won internationally. I was like, 'Holy cow!' So, it does give me a lot of confidence," she smiled.

The 2021 Showcase encouraged youth to submit entries inspired by the theme “United in Hope.” Young artists and authors shared their vision of unity and highlighted the importance of hope and perseverance in both local and global communities to navigate these difficult times.

“In an increasingly divided world, Sister Cities brings individuals, cultures and countries together for the benefit of all,” said Becky Renfro Borbolla, Board Chairma of Fort Worth Sister Cities International. “While international travel is limited, that doesn’t mean global relationship building can’t continue. We are so proud of Marissa’s creativity and her desire to make our world a better place.”

Funding and in-kind support from the City of Fort Worth (4% of Sister Cities’ budget) play a key role in its mission, but most of its work is made possible through public support.

Fort Worth Sister Cities International brings international attention to Fort Worth with its nine sister cities in China, Eswatini, France, Germany, Hungary, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, and Mexico since 1985.

Go online for more information about Fort Worth Sister Cities.

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